Biking my age in miles: 72 - Northwest Passages: Victoria to Portland - CycleBlaze

June 25, 2019

Biking my age in miles: 72

I’ll bet you thought I’d forgotten about or given up on this personal challenge, didn’t you?  Nope.  I’ve just been waiting for the right day.  I was originally thinking I’d take this ride closer to my birthday (in December), and mapped out the route back in January not long after we returned from Taiwan.  Somehow though the right day never came along and I tabled it until summer.  I’m thinking I might just plan for this ride in the summer in the future - days are longer and weather is better,  so it’s both easier to fit the ride in and more enjoyable to take it.

If you’ve forgotten I was doing this or hadn’t heard before, I started this four years ago when I turned 69.  I don’t remember now what inspired me to start doing this, but the idea is that each year I’ll take a day ride equal or longer in miles than my current age.  A personal challenge to stay fit enough and motivated enough to keep doing this as long as possible.  I’ve lost my journal of the first two rides, but I posted last year’s ride here.

Thinking back now, I think maybe I was inspired by the incredible Robert Marchand, holder of the world record for the one hour ride in the 105 and older age category.  I’m not delusional enough to feel like I’m in his company, but maybe I can still bike my age in miles when I’m 80?  85?  Who knows?

Anyway, the time has come.  The weather is about perfect today, we don’t  have any conflicting events, and I’m well rested after two days essentially off the bike.  The only miles I’ve ridden in the last two days are the first four miles of a ride to a Sauvie Island with Rachael, which for me were cut short when I flattened on a nail.  She continued on with the ride, and since I was still close to town I decided to just walk the bike back to the Lucky Laborador and repair the flat comfortably while I enjoyed a Super Dog IPA.

So much nicer to repair a flat here, rather than sitting on the concrete beside the highway.
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Except I didn’t repair the flat.  We’re still working our way back into riding with our home bikes, and I hadn’t gotten around to loading spare tubes into the pannier.  Which would be fine, because patching tubes is one of the few maintenance tasks I’m reasonably competent at; but that wasn’t an option either, because I hadn’t loaded the patch kit either.  I’d been mentally thinking it was in the underbag, but that’s for the Bike Friday, not Rodriguez.   Nothing to be done but to finish my IPA and start walking the last three miles back to our apartment.  Good thing I flattened so close to home!

So, enough with the preamble already.  What about the ride?

I get a fairly early start, leaving home about 5:45.  My meal plan for the day starts with breakfast in Oregon City at the Riverside Inn, which doesn’t open until 7.  No rush, so I take my time and stop along the way here and there to pull out the camera.  It’s a beautiful morning, offering plenty of excuses to stop.   

Looking across the Willamette from John’s Landing to Ross Island.
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The view south from the Sellwood Bridge
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Water striders
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The confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette rivers
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It takes a pretty special outhouse to catch my attention.
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Willamette Falls and the Oregon City Arch Bridge, through the Abernathy (Interstate 205) Bridge.
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The Riverside Grill is pretty conventional but makes a good breakfast stop for longer rides like this - it makes for a good early break after getting in a few easy early morning miles.  Rachael reminds me that we’ve stopped in here together a few times years ago, at the start of rides down to Salem.

I hang around over my omelet, potatoes and toast probably longer than I need to, and don’t get started again for another two hours.  Once I finally do, I climb up the hill to upper Oregon City and then continue south on beautiful Central Point Road, our favorite route south on the east side of the river.  We must have taken this route dozens of times over the years, and always enjoy it as we roll along through small farms a few hundred feet above the valley floor.   There’s always something interesting to see, and today is no exception - starting with a beautifully rusted old Chevy pickup just as I’m leaving town.

A work of art in steel and rust.
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Styled by Kandinsky
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Yup, it’s a Chevy. Frank will probably know which model.
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This guy ran across the road just in front of me, then stopped to look back.
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Central Point Road passes through beautiful horse country.
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More attractive rust
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The zucchini harvesters
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The morning migration
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Central Point Road ends at a T junction with Mulino Road.  Turning right,  I follow this for a few miles and soon come to Canby and skirt its northern edge on Logging Country Road, a nice pedestrianized route I’ve not noticed before.  From there I head west toward Champoeg Park, and then south to the bridge across the Willamette.  A few miles more and I’m on the outskirts of Newberg and stop for a second breakfast at Shari’s, getting some diversity into my diet by ordering eggs over easy and sausage this time rather than a second omelet.

The Molalla River, from Knights Bridge.
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The Pudding River, from Arndt Road. The interesting thing here is that low ridge backing the river. The river also flows on the opposite side, just 200 feet away. If you zoom in on the map at mile 30.5, you’ll see that the river forms nearly a complete circle here. It’s just a matter of time until it cuts through the rest of the way.
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I’ve biked through Butteville a number of times, but today is the first time I’ve understood where its name came from. I had to approach it from the right direction.
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Just growing some dirt, apparently.
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Looking through the hazelnuts, one of the big money crops here, to the Chehalem Mountains across the river. We’ll be climbing that ridge sometime after lunch.
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Crossing the Willamette, on busy Highway 219. I don’t care for this crossing too much, really - look at how low that railing is protecting you from a long drop to the river.
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Looking south up the Willamette.
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So, after another lengthy break (who wants to start biking again too soon after a big lunch?), I leave Newberg and head north toward the Chehalem Mountains.  I’ve never taken this particular route - I only came to it after playing around with map trying to invent a route of the right length for this event - but it’s a great one.  I’m sure I’ll be back to try it again some day, and maybe drag Rachael along too so we can get some video.  After a few miles it starts climbing straight into the ridge before angling right and following a fairly gentle traverse the rest of the way to the top.  There’s no shoulder, but then there’s no traffic to speak of either.

From the summit you can go west, following the ridge top to Bald Pete.  That’s a great ride, but much too long for today’s purposes going that way.  I turn right instead onto Bell Road and soon drop off the northeast shoulder of the mountain into the Tualatin Valley. The great riding conditions continue until I reach the valley floor, and then abruptly they don’t.  When I reach Stafford the traffic picks up significantly, and I’m in it for most of the final 20 miles of the ride.  Unpleasant, but at least I make good time. I need to go back to the map again before coming back this way and find a quiet, safer alternative.

Still though, not bad: 54 great miles, and 20 less so.  I even came in with an extra two miles to show for my efforts.  See you next year!

Hats and hoes
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The perspective here is all wrong - this slope rises at about 45%, and I’m biking straight a it wondering where my road is going. Is that lavender up there at the top?
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The road’s going here instaid of straight up, fortunately. Right at the base of the vineyards it makes a sharp right turn and continues climbing at a gentle pitch.
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At the summit, at Gibbs Cemetery (est 1889).
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Chapman Road, which drops off the mountain a different way again, on another road I’ve never ridden. Looks like a great ride. I’ll have to study the map some more to see what it connects to.
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Looking northwest along the Chehalem Mountains. That high point must be somewhere around Bald Pete.
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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chestnut tree grove before. I didn’t know they were cultivated in this way.
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Adding some color to the chestnut tree grove.
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Not much of a photo of a turkey vulture. Actually, I’m tracking him hoping he’ll return to the road kill he just swooped past a short ways in front of me. I finally gave up, which is just as well - the road kill proved to be just a dead branch.
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For about a mile I got off the busy arterials onto the Westside Regional Trail.
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Keith KleinHi Scott,
Looking at this picture got me thinking about trail designers. Here you have a lovely trail that meanders across the landscape under what is manifestly a very straight line of power poles. It looks beautiful, but as a rider I was always a little frustrated that these trails were designed to look good and not to be a part of a transportation system. I like meandering roads and in Europe or New England or any other place not governed by the Northwest Ordinance of 1797 the roads follow the lay of the land, but they do so “organically”, that is for a reason and not to be pretty. Another way to think of this might be that trails like this one are for park landscapes, while rail-trails are to get somewhere.
You’ve ridden both, and have a lot of experience in Europe, so what are your thoughts?
Cheers,
Keith
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith KleinI agree completely. Connecting trails like this are attractive for cycling only because they give a break from the traffic. They’re not designed for cycling, really - they’re really just ribbon parks leveraging the only available green space in a large suburban sprawl. Portland does have some very nice cycle paths that follow the waterways or lay of the land, but this isn’t among them.
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1 month ago
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Ride stats today: 74 miles, 4,200’

Rate this entry's writing Heart 11
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Jen GrumbyBeautiful ride!

Look forward to reading about / seeing photos of next year's ride.
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1 month ago
Keith ClassenGreat idea and great shots. Much easier to ride our age here above the 49th... in kilometres!!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith ClassenYup. That’s my ace in the hole. When I can’t do the miles any more I’ll convert to metric; and when that fails I’ll move on to furlongs.
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1 month ago